The Chong Yang Jie, or Double Ninth Festival, was traditionally a festival to climb a high mountain, drink chrysanthemum wine and wear zhu yu (cornel 茱萸) leaves.
With nine believed to be a yang (“warm”) energy number, the Double Ninth Festival, observed on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, is believed to be a day with too much yang energy. This year it falls tomorrow.
Climbing high, drinking chrysanthemum wine and wearing zhu yu are all customs to protect people from danger. Both chrysanthemum and zhu yu are considered to have cleansing qualities and are used on other occasions to air out houses and cure illnesses.
The tradition can be traced back to a legend in the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220). It’s said that people by the Ruhe River were annually attacked by the plague because of a monster living in the river. The monster killed many people, including the parents of Huan Jing.
The young man left his hometown to search for a way to kill the monster. He toured around the country and, with the guidance of a crane, eventually met an immortal living on a mountain.
Touched by Huan’s bravery and sincerity, the immortal accepted him and taught him how to kill the monster with a magic sword. When Huan mastered the skills after much practice, the immortal asked him to leave.
“It will be the ninth day of the ninth month tomorrow, when the plague monster will do evil things again. You are now ready to get rid of the evil,” said the immortal, while giving him a pack of zhu yu leaves and a bottle of chrysanthemum wine.